Men and Women’s Indoor Track and Field will be an official National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III sport for Webster University this school year.
Director of Athletics Scott Kilgallon said he made the decision to make the two teams official in mid-August. The team, coached by Outdoor Track and Field Head Coach Dan Graber, will hold its first practices in October. Their first meets will take place in early November.
The indoor team’s NCAA III certification was important for recruiting new student athletes to Webster, Kilgallon said.
“It’s a good way to bring in additional recruits,” Kilgallon said. “I can tell you, your true runners, certainly if they’re track and field, want to have that opportunity to compete indoor and outdoors.”
Graber said 35 student athletes are set to compete for Webster this fall, many of whom have competed in cross country and outdoor track and field. He said nearly half of the students who are participating in indoor track and field are on the Webster cross country team.
Graber said the fact the indoor team was declared as an official NCAA sport shows Kilgallon and Webster support student athletes.
“It gives our athletes the opportunity to take every opportunity the NCAA offers,” Graber said. “It shows a lot that Scott (Kilgallon) and the administration are willing to support indoor track. It shows our athletes the school cares about them.”
Kilgallon said he decided to complete the NCAA III Sports Sponsorship and Demographic form in August that declared indoor track and field as an official Webster sport.
“They’ve had a very limited program both in the number of meets that they offered and certainly not the amount of meets and students athletes they’d need to qualify as an NCAA sport,” Kilgallon said.
Kilgallon said an important perk of an official team is that students who make qualifying times, marks or heights in the NCAA III championships will be able to compete in national championships.
“That’s probably the most important thing for us, that those students athletes, if they qualify, will be able to go to that level,” Kilgallon said.
Indoor track and field’s model is similar to outdoor, Kilgallon said. Differences include a 60-meter dash, as opposed to a 100-meter dash.
“They are very different sports, but you’ll typically see that same student athlete participate in two, if not three, of the events,” Kilgallon said.
The indoor track and field team will practice at the Webster Groves Recreation Center.